Over coffee last week, a friend who has been in the job market for nearly a year said he can count on one hand how many responses he’s received from more than 150 online applications.  “At first, it was demoralizing, but I have just come to accept the rudeness,” he said. 

Several other job-seeking friends confirm increasing frustrations of never hearing back from agencies and corporations that have posted job openings.  I told him several agency and corporate friends are seeing record volumes of resumes.  One PR director of a Chicago-area Fortune 500 company told me that he was swamped with 735 resumes the first week of a job posting for an internal communications manager.  Many more have come in since. 

I couldn’t fully explain employer non response to online applications until I read Sunday’s New York Times article by Phyllis Korkki.  She reports that organizations received an average of 75 percent more applications in the first half of 2009 , compared with the same period of 2008, according to a survey by the Corporate Executive Board

Clearly, agencies and companies need to develop better response systems for this surge in online resumes.  Their brands depend on it.  The 750 people who do not hear from a company that sells consumer products become 750 potentially disgruntled consumers–considerably more if you accept the rule that every unhappy customer tells at least 10 others about the experience. 

In the meantime, applicants have to take charge of getting their resumes in front of the right hiring managers.  The Times article provides common-sense suggestions about getting your resume pulled out from under the piles of others that are clogging human resources offices.  As earlier posts here suggested, it is important to seek out a contact from within the company.  That can be done via a simple phone call to determine who is the hiring manager for the assignment.  LinkedIn and other online sources can provide insights about who works in the function over the particular job opening. 

If after a few days, you don’t receive an online response or call regarding your resume, follow up by phone.  Assuming you reach someone involved in the decision-making process, they’ll generally seek out your resume from the pile.   That’s the breakthrough that leads to your consideration.